When a victim of medical malpractice seeks compensation for their injury or the death of a loved one, California limits the amount of money they can receive for pain and suffering.
Until the passing of California Assembly Bill 35 (AB 35) in January of this year, this placed patients in a dire position, where, at times, patients had to pay massive amounts of money out of pocket.
Until California passed this new law, the state had one of the country’s lowest caps nationwide for medical malpractice cases.
Before this new law, victims’ non-economic awards in medical malpractice cases were capped at $250,000, disregarding how many medical professionals or institutions were negligent.
This cap did not account for inflation or rising medical costs, leaving victims financially strapped and helpless.
Over the last ten years, legislators and pro-patient groups have pushed for changes to this law. They demanded accountability from doctors and institutions, who, until then, had significant freedoms that went beyond what was in patients’ best interests.
This led to California Assembly Bill 35, widely supported by the U.S. legislature, lawyers and other groups.
Purpose of Assembly Bill 35
Effective January 1, 2023, California Assembly Bill 35 went into effect, raising the maximum compensation that patients or their families can receive for non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases in California.
These changes serve as an update to MICRA (California’s 1975 Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act), and their purpose is twofold:
- Ensure that victims of medical malpractice cases and their families are better protected; and,
- Alleviate ongoing concerns about systematic negligence.
In any medical malpractice case filed after January 1, 2023, patients can receive a higher payout for non-economic medical malpractice damages.
The payouts will begin at $350,000 and continue to increase over the next decade, eventually capping at $750,000.
In addition to the changes in monetary awards, the bill aims to address concerns regarding regulating doctors and medical institutions.
A study of records found that the California State Medical Board permitted doctors and other practitioners accused of medical malpractice to continue practicing medicine. AB 35 now creates added accountability for those in the medical profession.